Marijan Murat/dpa via AP,file

BUNDESLIGA 2017-18: Guide to the two promoted teams

Leave a comment

BERLIN (AP) A look at Stuttgart and Hannover as the promoted teams prepare for the opening weekend of the Bundesliga.

[ MORE: Hoffenheim 1-2 Liverpool ]

STUTTGART

Stuttgart, which won the Bundesliga in 2007, was relegated in 2016 but bounced straight back by winning the second division last season.

The club has made a number of signings in an attempt to stay in the top flight this time: former Germany defenders Holger Badstuber and Dennis Aogo; Brazilian defender Ailton; forwards Chadrac Akolo and Anastasios Donis; and Germany backup goalkeeper Ron-Robert Zieler.

Arguably more significant, however, was Stuttgart’s luring of Michael Reschke from Bayern Munich to be its sporting director. The 59-year-old Reschke has a good reputation for scouting and player development after three years at Bayern and 10 at Bayer Leverkusen. His services will be appreciated at a club that has long nurtured raw talent. Seven members of Germany’s Confederations Cup-winning squad began their careers at Stuttgart, including Timo Werner, Joshua Kimmich and Mario Gomez.

Simon Terodde, the team’s top goalscorer last season, knows his side faces a difficult task to ensure survival this year.

“In the second division we were always the favorites, had a lot of ball-possession,” Terodde said. “That will change now in the Bundesliga when you’re playing against the big teams like Schalke, Bayern, Dortmund. That’s the way it is. But still, we’re prepared.”


HANNOVER

Hannover also returned at the first attempt, as the runner-up in the second division.

But the side’s summer rebuilding has been overshadowed by club president’s Martin Kind’s takeover of voting rights. Kind has been an outspoken critic of the Bundesliga’s 50-plus-1 regulation, which limits the influence of external backers, and he was able to increase his stake to a majority thanks to an exemption as he has backed the club for 20 years.

[ MORE:  Klopp reacts to Champions League win ]

The regulation prohibits stakeholders from having more than 49 percent of a club, with the rest remaining in club members’ hands to prevent takeovers. There are exceptions – Wolfsburg, Leverkusen, Hoffenheim and now, Hannover.

The move has been opposed by many club supporters and Kind has been the subject of derogatory chants at friendly games. Hannover’s friendly at Premier League side Burnley was called off at halftime due to trouble from the visiting fans.

The club has been relatively quiet on the transfer front, bringing in defenders Julian Korb and Matthias Ostrzolek from Bundesliga rivals Borussia Moenchengladbach and Hamburger SV, respectively, as well as midfielder Pirmin Schwegler from Hoffenheim.

Staying in the Bundesliga is the initial priority, though Kind wants the club to play internationally.

Horst Heldt was appointed as sporting director last March, and he brought in Andre Breitenreiter as coach. The two had worked together at Schalke.

“We need three years to establish ourselves back in the Bundesliga, and then we will look forwards,” Kind said. “I can’t say yet whether that will be Europe.”

More AP German soccer: http://www.apnews.com/tag/Bundesliga

Conte admits job security speculation will always exist at Chelsea

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Antonio Conte admits that he will always face speculation about his tenure as manager while he is employed at Chelsea, but dismissed it as “no problem for me.”

There is a general acceptance that Conte will part ways with Chelsea at the end of the season given the tough times the club has seen this campaign. The Blues are hanging on to a Champions League place by a thread, and struggled through a January that included just two wins across all competitions in six matches.

“I’ve said it very clearly: I’ve got a contract until 2019 and I intend to respect this, but you know anything can happen in football,” Conte told Italian publication Mediaset. “It takes two to be happy and continue a marriage. Our work is unique because we’ve always got our suitcase in our hands.”

Conte did issue somewhat of a warning to Chelsea, however, that if he were to be fired, it could come back to haunt the club, as he would have no shortage of offers. “My intention is to respect my contract, but if something were to happen, it would open up different scenarios.” Big clubs such as Paris Saint-Germain and Real Madrid could have job openings this summer if their lofty goals aren’t met, and those places would be attractive destinations for Conte, who won the Premier League title with Chelsea just last year.

“It’s a bit the history of Chelsea and inevitable when, in the past, in 14 years, 10 coaches have been changed,” he said. “Clearly when there is this habit, let’s say, the press play on it and as soon as there is a result or two which don’t go your way, they try to put the pressure on.

“But it’s no problem for me. I hope that this pressure doesn’t harm the players, not me, because I go looking for pressure.”

CCL: Toronto wins; Wild Herediano comeback

AP Photo/David Zalubowski
Leave a comment

On a single-digit Tuesday that severely limited the attendance at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, where the Colorado Rapids and Toronto FC dueled in the first leg of the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals.

Jonathan Osorio’s second half goal put the Reds in front and Sebastian Giovinco had a goal and an assist and the visitors take a 2-0 decision back to Ontario.

The best chance of a preseason quality first half saw Dominique Badji flub the best chance of the stage into the feet of Alex Bono.

Toronto took the lead, nabbing the away goal through Osorio’s header of a Sebastian Giovinco cross. And the Atomic Ant got on the board with a goal of his own off an Auro assist with 17 minutes to play.

[ MORE: Georgia teen heading to Schalke ]

Tuesday’s other first leg saw Herediano and Tigres play to a 2-2 draw in Costa Rica, with the Liga MX visitors taking a pair of away goals but shocked by a pair of stoppage time concessions.

Francisco Meza scored in the 15th minute and Lucas Zelarayan seemingly put it to bed with 15 minutes to play.

But Yendrick Ruiz converted a 90th minute penalty kick before ex-DC United forward Jairo Arrieta did this ahead of the Feb. 22 second leg in Mexico.

Another American heads to Schalke: Zyen Jones

@KingZyen
Leave a comment

Schalkamerica?

Bundesliga mainstays Schalke have added yet another American, this one 17-year-old Zyen Jones of Atlanta United. Jones is a forward with the U.S. U-17 national team.

Like Josh Sargent, who signed his deal with Werder Bremen on Tuesday, he’ll head overseas and sign a pro contract on Aug. 25, his 18th birthday.

[ MORE: Chelsea-Barca recap | JPW’s 3 things ]

Jones will join several potential USMNT teammates in Gelsenkirchen, including injured senior team midfielder Weston McKennie and youngster Nick Taitague (19). Forward Haji Wright is on loan at Sandhausen.

Report: Simon Dawkins making move to Minnesota

Photo by Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images
Leave a comment

The Loons are taking a flier on Simon Dawkins.

The London-born Jamaican international hasn’t done a ton since returning to MLS from Derby County, and turned 30 over the offseason, and Paul Tenorio says the player is on his way to Minnesota United.

[ MORE: Chelsea-Barca recap | JPW’s 3 things ]

Dawkins scored 14 goals between 2011-12 with San Jose, but scored just five times in his return to California and was blanked in 14 appearances last season. He registered just 10 shots in those matches.

The left winger would join an attack with Christian Ramirez, Kevin Molino, Ethan Finlay, and a pair of Generations Adidas forwards: Abu Danladi (2017 SuperDraft) and Mason Toye (2018).